Tech reviews

Video content is hard. Just Ask the Agent: Tech Review – Inman

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Ask the Agent is a video creation solution for real estate agents

Platforms: Browser; mobile responsive
Ideal for: Agents, teams and brokerages

Top selling points:

  • Easy onboarding
  • Facilitates fast video creation
  • AI integration for scripts/teleprompter
  • Content distribution tools

Top concern(s):

Many. For starters, agents simply have a hard time creating video, despite every tool, tactic and incentive to do so, a fact that will make this app’s adoption a considerable challenge. It also suffers from a dated, rudimentary front end desperate for a high-dollar investment in a redesign.

What you should know

Ask the Agent is a web-based video production suite designed to help agents create short-form video resources for their clients, leads and colleagues. The intent is to create a video response for as many questions as one believes a lead or client will have about buying and selling, ranging from “Tell me about your marketing strategy” to “What is an inspection contingency?”

The software allows users to embed their video library under a list of FAQs, then share them via email, text, QR codes and social media. There is also the video profile, or “Meet the Agent,” a video introduction that each user should film before delivering additional content. Videos can be activated, archived, re-ordered, highlighted and generally managed in a number of ways for re-use in all kinds of media. I recommend using QR codes in print ads and direct mail.

Naturally, listing videos are encouraged on behalf of sellers, and the Agent Broadcast is a productive way to send property availability to colleagues around the market while the Property Listing channel consolidates an agent’s inventory into a single location. This might be the app’s highest and best use. Video content for listings is always welcomed by the seller and, in this era, is considered table-stakes marketing for any active buyer.

I looked at this app first in October 2023 and needed time to collect my thoughts.

The team followed up in January with an adviser I know on board, encouraging me to have another look. The call didn’t go super well, even if The Ask the Agent team is made up of very nice, intelligent real estate industry professionals.

But I simply couldn’t hold my water after about 15 minutes of being told how easy it is to make a video using their software. My problem is that that doesn’t matter; it’s been easy to make video content for a decade, for as long as a person could point a mobile phone in their direction and hold their arm out. If agents want to be on camera, it’s not the ease of creation preventing them.

In summary, despite its dated look and feel, confusing use of the term “interactive,” feature redundancies and willingness to take on TikTok and YouTube, it’s ultimately not Ask the Agent’s software or user experience slowing it down — it’s the fact that real estate agents drastically over-think and under-value video content.

Think about it: YouTube has long been the second most used and, many argue, the internet’s most valuable, search engine for years. What more impetus does one need to recognize that sharing real estate intelligence via personal video narratives is worth the effort?

Maybe this news is having a hard time finding its way to the real estate industry; I don’t know. But if its members were going to proliferate consumers with video, it would have happened by now.

Not helping Ask the Agent’s value proposition is that agents who do want to be on camera turn to social media to advance their brands. TikTok and Instagram have immeasurably powerful distribution technology running at all times behind the scenes. Agents who have to disseminate their content manually via their existing networks are likely going to become disenchanted with the lack of engagement, even if Ask the Agent provides a conduit to publish on those platforms. It’s simply not the same.

The idea, at its root, is sound: give people personal responses to the many questions they have about buying and selling. Even if pre-recorded, it’s a nice touch as long as it’s not over-used, which is another problem I have with this product. Video isn’t needed for every interaction, which this tends to encourage and frankly, its model depends on.

A “Meet the Agent” piece is a good use of video, as is explaining the few, more complex deal milestones, like what happens during escrow and how a closing works.

I also offer the fact that AI is rampaging its way into the space, offering consumers countless more avenues for learning how the transaction process works. At the most fundamental level, this app even competes with an evergreen series of well-written blog posts.

Direct Offer’s audio tour feature had to pivot to AI-generated voiceovers because its users were hesitant to even put their voice to a listing’s visuals.

Twice a year at Inman Connect, specialists on this very matter offer endless tips and motivators for creating short-term video content and they always deliver powerful arguments. I dare you to sit in on a Katie Lance presentation and then tell me you don’t want to take on Hollywood when she’s done. She crushes. And even though Giselle Ugarte once pestered me with tedious word choice edits to a story about her, she’s as inspirational as they come on the topic of short-form video creation.

I hate to sound so down on a product, but I can’t be sold on its ability to make agents suddenly want to record themselves.

Ask the Agent can create as many ways as possible to make it easy — teleprompters, record buttons, quick links, ChatGPT — but until they can convince their audience to face a camera and push Record, the application will face considerable challenges to reach widespread adoption.

Ask the Agent if you want, but you first need to ask the person in the mirror.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.


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